Geno Smith hasn’t been a full-time starting quarterback since the end of the 2014 season.
That was his second year in the NFL, with the New York Jets team that drafted him in the second round out of West Virginia.
After starting 29 games in his first two years in the league, he has started just five games and appeared in just 16 games since.
That all could change this season, as he enters his fourth year with the Seattle Seahawks.
“He’s got full command of the offense,” Seattle offensive coordinator Shane Waldron said on Thursday. “He knows everything that’s going on, and understands all the concepts, all the run game concepts, as well. He’s done a great job.”
Smith, a three-year starter at West Virginia and the most prolific passer in program history, is the longest-tenured of the three quarterbacks on Seattle’s roster. He has played six more seasons in the NFL than Drew Lock, who is his main source of competition for the Seahawks’ starting job.
Last year, Smith was the back-up for Russell Wilson, who was traded to the Denver Broncos this offseason. He started three games while Wilson recovered from an injury.
“[Smith] did a great job when he was in that number two role of not just being in the role, but preparing every day like he was going to be the starter that week,” Waldron added.
Seattle is looking for one of the battling quarterbacks to take command of the position, and for that player to display solid leadership qualities.
According to Waldron, Smith has checked both of those boxes in his time with the franchise.
“Just the natural way the room works, when you’re the back-up, one of the good qualities in a good back-up is being able to be fully supportive of the starter. And I thought Geno did such an excellent job of really adapting to that role,” Waldron said Thursday. “But now that it’s the competition that we’ve got going, he’s able to step more in that leadership role. So you just hear from him more. You hear from him a little bit more in the meetings, hear from him more out in the field in that leadership role.”
Waldron added that Smith’s leadership is becoming more apparent this offseason.
The former Mountaineer has also made that impression on one of the newest pass catchers on the Seahawks roster.
“First thing coming in, I noticed that he’s a leader,” fourth-year tight end Noah Fant said of Smith. “You can tell he’s a guy that’s been in the league for a long time. Very smart. Likes to communicate with guys, whether it’s on the field or in the locker room.”
Fant came to Seattle in the trade that sent Wilson to Denver. Along with Fant came Lock, who is battling with Smith for the starting job.
Seattle opens the regular season against the Broncos on Sept. 12 on Monday Night Football.
If Smith earns the starting job, he will begin the year by squaring off against the former face of the franchise that he now is tasked with replacing.
He has filled big shoes before. Smith became the full-time starting quarterback at WVU just two years after Pat White dazzled in the Old Gold & Blue.
Smith went on to throw for 11,662 yards and 98 touchdowns in his career with the Mountaineers.